Please wait a minute...
Acta Psychologica Sinica    2020, Vol. 52 Issue (2) : 139-148     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2020.00139
Reports of Empirical Studies |
Comparing the attentional boost effect between classified learning and mixed learning
MENG Yingfang(),YE Xiumin,MA Huijiao
School of Psychology, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou 350117, China
Download: PDF(603 KB)   HTML Review File (1 KB) 
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks     Supporting Info

Stimuli presented with interference of the nature of targets detection are later recognized more accurately than that of distracted rejection, an unusual effect labeled the attentional boost effect (ABE). Spataro, Mulligan, Gabrielli and Rossi-Arnaud (2017) proposed the item-specific account, arguing that target detection mainly facilitates the processing of item-specific information rather than relational information. The item-specific account seems to have a larger scope of application. However, Spataro et al. (2017) proposed this account mainly based on the different degrees to which test tasks depended on item-specific and relational information. As a result, we propose a question: if target detection mainly promotes the item-specific information of the background stimulus, when the background stimulus mainly depends on the processing of relational information, will the promoting effect of target detection be reduced or even disappear? The discussion of this issue could provide more direct evidence for the item-specific account of the ABE. In the present study, mixed learning and classified learning methods were used to process the item-specific information and relational information of background stimuli. In general, pictures and words contain different perceptual information; the memory of picture preferentially utilizes image representations, while the memory of word preferentially utilizes semantic representations. Additionally, do the processing differences seen between words and pictures change the effects of classified and mixed learning on the ABE? To answer these questions, the current study performed two experiments to test whether the ABE is affected by the different types of processing needed for words and pictures used as background information.

The experiment was a 2 (presentation mode: classified learning, mixed learning) × 3 (stimulus type: target, distraction, baseline) mixed design. The presentation mode is the between-subjects variable, and the stimulus type is the within-subjects variable. In experiment 1, in classified learning, category words and words unrelated to the category were presented in sequential groups, and the words in each group were presented randomly. To enhance the effect of classification, a 3000 ms "blink" cue and a 1000 ms "continue" cue were inserted between every two groups of words. In mixed learning, category words and words unrelated to the category were presented randomly through a mixed display, and there were no extra intervals between groups. Sixty students participated in experiment 1, and 78 students participated in experiment 2. Participants were told to read each word aloud while simultaneously monitoring a small indicator above the word. Participants were then instructed to press the space bar as quickly as possible when they saw that the indicator was a “+” (a target) and to withhold a response when they saw that the indicator was a “-” (a distractor) or when they did not see an indicator at all (no indicator). In experiment 2, pictures (brief strokes) were used as background stimuli, and the other task and procedure were similar to those in experiment 1.

The main results were as follows. In Experiment 1, the ABE is robust only in mixed learning; that is, the recognition rate of target-paired words is obviously better than that of distractor-paired words (p = 0.004) and even reaches the level of full attention (baseline words) (p = 0.95). The recognition rate of distractor-paired words is obviously lower than that of baseline words (p = 0.044), showing a typical distraction inhibitory effect. Moreover, there was no significant difference between target-paired words (p = 0.636) and baseline words (p = 0.697) in the two presentation modes, but the recognition rate of distractor-paired words during classified learning was significantly higher than that of mixed learning (p = 0.008). In experiment 2, the ABE was found in both classified and mixed learning modes, but the ABE during classified learning (10%) was lower than that during mixed learning (16%). The recognition rate of target-paired pictures was even better than that of baseline pictures, showing an absolute attention boosting effect. Moreover, there was no significant difference between the recognition rate for the two kinds of target-paired pictures (p = 0.614). However, the recognition rates of distractor-paired pictures (p = 0.043) and baseline pictures (p = 0.036) show differences in the presentation mode. During classified learning, the recognition rates of distractor-paired pictures and baseline pictures are slightly higher than those during mixed learning.

The results suggest that compared with the mixed learning condition, the ABE in the classified learning condition is reduced. Compared with pictures, the ABE for words is more vulnerable to classified learning, which can even makes the ABE disappear. This effect may occur because participants tend to encode relational information in classified learning, which may reduce the inhibitory effect of distraction rejection, thus reducing the difference between target-pair stimuli and distractor-pair stimuli. Therefore, the current study provides more direct evidence for the item-specific account of the ABE.

Keywords attentional boost effect      item-specific information      item-relational information      item-specific account     
PACS:  B842  
Corresponding Authors: Yingfang MENG     E-mail:
Issue Date: 24 December 2019
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
Articles by authors
Cite this article:   
MENG Yingfang,YE Xiumin,MA Huijiao. Comparing the attentional boost effect between classified learning and mixed learning[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica,2020, 52(2): 139-148.
URL:     OR
[1] Carvalho P. F., & Goldstone R. L . (2017). Carnegie mellon university the sequence of study changes what information is attended to, encoded, and remembered during category learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory & Cognition, 43(11), 1-21.
[2] Cohen J . (1992). Statistical power analysis. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 1(3), 98-101.
[3] Dong C. F . (2004). Effect of category variables on false recognition (Master's thesis). South China Normal University.
[3] [ 董昌锋 . (2004). 范畴变量对虚假再认的影响 (硕士学位论文). 华南师范大学.]
[4] Einstein G. O., & Hunt R. R . (1980). Levels of processing and organization: Additive effects of individual-item and relational processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning & Memory, 6(5), 588-598.
[5] Engelkamp J . (1995). Visual imagery and enactment of actions in memory. British Journal of Psychology, 86(2), 227-240.
[6] Fang Y. H., Zhang J. J . (2009). Asymmetry in naming and categorizing of Chinese words and pictures: Role of semantic radicals. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 41(2), 114-126.
[6] [ 方燕红, 张积家 . (2009). 汉字词和图片命名与分类的比较. 心理学报, 41(2), 114-126.]
[7] Faul F., Erdfelder E., Lang A. G., & Buchner A . (2007). G*power 3: A flexible statistical power analysis program for the social, behavioral, and biomedical sciences. Behavior Research Methods, 39(2), 175-191.
[8] Gollin E. S., & Sharps M. J . (1988). Facilitation of free recall by categorical blocking depends on stimulus type. Memory & Cognition, 16(6), 539-544.
[9] Huff M. J., & Bodner G. E . (2014). All varieties of encoding variability are not created equal: Separating variable processing from variable tasks. Journal of Memory and Language, 73, 43-58.
[10] Humphreys G. W., Lamote C., & Lloydjones T. J . (1995). An interactive activation approach to object processing: Effects of structural similarity, name frequency, and task in normality and pathology. Memory, 3(3-4), 535-586.
[11] Hunt R. R . (1981). Relational and item-specific information in memory. Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior, 20(5), 497-514.
[12] Hunt R. R., & McDaniel M. A . (1993). The enigma of organization and distinctiveness. Journal of Memory and Language, 32(4), 421-445.
[13] Hunt R. R., & Seta C. E . (1984). Category size effects in recall: The roles of relational and individual item information. Journal of Experimental Psychology Learning Memory & Cognition, 10(3), 454-464.
[14] Johnston W. A., & Dark V. J . (1986). Selective attention. Annual Review of Psychology, 37(1), 43-75.
[15] Li G. Z., Li M., Lin W. Y., & Wang L. J . (2016). The Encoding Mechanism of SPT Effect: Item-Specific and Item-Relational Information. Journal of Psychological Science, 41(2), 292-297.
[15] [ 李广政, 李梅, 林文毅, 王丽娟 . (2016). SPT效应的编码机制: 项目特异性与项目关联性信息. 心理科学, 41(2), 292-297.]
[16] Lin J. Y., Pype A. D., Murray S. O., & Boynton G. M . (2010). Enhanced memory for scenes presented at behaviorally relevant points in time. PloS Biology, 8(3), e1000337.
[17] Liu X. P., & Li Y. M . (2007). The effects of gist representations and verbatim representations on false recognition. Journal of Psychological Science, 30(5), 1091-1094.
[17] [ 刘希平, 李永梅 . (2007). 要点表征与字词表征在错误再认中的作用. 心理科学, 30(5), 1091-1094.]
[18] Makovski T., Swallow K. M., & Jiang Y. V . (2011). Attending to unrelated targets boosts short-term memory for color arrays. Neuropsychologia, 49(6), 1498-1505.
[19] Meng Y. F., & Lin H. R . (2018). Attentional boost effect: New insights on relationship between attention and memory. Advances in Psychological Science, 26(2), 221-228.
[19] [ 孟迎芳, 林惠茹 . (2018). 注意促进效应: 注意与记忆关系的新见解. 心理科学进展, 26(2), 221-228.]
[20] Meng Y. F., Lin G. Y., & Lin H. R . (2019). The role of distractor inhibition in the attentional boost effect: Evidence from the R/K paradigm. Memory, 27(6), 750-757.
[21] Meng Y. F., Zheng S. Q., Wang D. P., & Nie A. Q . (2018). Limits to the attentional boost effect: The moderating influence of negative emotion. Journal of Psychological Science, 41(2), 298-304.
[21] [ 孟迎芳, 郑思琦, 王大鹏, 聂爱情 . (2018). 负性情绪对注意促进效应的调节. 心理科学, 41(2), 298-304.]
[22] Mulligan N. W . (1999). The effects of perceptual interference at encoding on organization and order: Investigating the roles of item-specific and relational information. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory & Cognition, 25(1), 54-69.
[23] Mulligan N. W . (2008). Attention and memory. In H. L. Roediger (Ed.), Learning and memory: A comprehensive reference (pp. 7-22). Oxford, England: Elsevier.
[24] Mulligan N. W., Smith S. A., & Spataro P . (2015). The attentional boost effect and context memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology Learning Memory & Cognition, 42(4), 598-607.
[25] Mulligan N. W., Spataro P., & Picklesimer M . (2014). The attentional boost effect with verbal materials. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory & Cognition, 40(4), 1049-1063.
[26] Olofsson U . (1996). The effect of enactment on memory for order. Psychological Research, 59(1), 75-79.
[27] Paivio A . (1991). Dual coding theory: Retrospect and current status. Canadian Journal of Psychology Revue Canadienne De Psychologie, 45(3), 255-287.
[28] Parks C. M . (2013). Transfer-appropriate processing in recognition memory: Perceptual and conceptual effects on recognition memory depend on task demands. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory & Cognition, 39(4), 1280-1286.
[29] Pashler H . (1994). Dual-task interference in simple tasks: Data and theory. Psychological Bulletin, 116(2), 220-244.
[30] Ren J .(2010). The visual processing of words and object shapes: An FMRI study (Unpublished master’s thesis), Guangzhou University.
[30] [ 任静 . (2010). 文字和物体图形视觉加工脑成像研究(硕士学位论文). 广州大学.]
[31] Roediger H. L., Watson J. M., Mcdermott K. B., & Gallo D. A . (2001). Factors that determine false recall: A multiple regression analysis. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 8(3), 385-407.
[32] Rossi-Arnaud C., Spataro P., Saraulli D., Mulligan N. W., Sciarretta A., Marques V. R., & Cestari V . (2014). The attentional boost effect in schizophrenia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 123(3), 588-597.
[33] Spataro P., Mulligan N. W., Bechi G. G., & Rossi-Arnaud C . (2017). Divided attention enhances explicit but not implicit conceptual memory: An item-specific account of the attentional boost effect. Memory, 25(2), 1-6.
[34] Spataro P., Mulligan N. W., & Rossi-Arnaud C . (2013). Divided attention can enhance memory encoding: The attentional boost effect in implicit memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 39(4), 1223-1231.
[35] Spataro P., Mulligan N. W., & Rossi-Arnaud C . (2015). Limits to the attentional boost effect: The moderating influence of orthographic distinctiveness. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 22(4), 987-992.
[36] Swallow K. M., & Jiang Y. V . (2010). The attentional boost effect: Transient increases in attention to one task enhance performance in a second task. Cognition, 115(1), 118-132.
[37] Swallow K. M., & Jiang Y. V . (2011). The role of timing in the attentional boost effect. Attention Perception & Psychophysics, 73(2), 389-404.
[38] Swallow K. M., & Jiang Y. V . (2012). Goal-relevant events need not be rare to boost memory for concurrent images. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 74(1), 70-82.
[39] Swallow K. M., & Jiang Y. V . (2014b). The attentional boost effect really is a boost: Evidence from a new baseline. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 76(5), 1298-1307.
[40] Yonelinas A. P . (2002). The nature of recollection and familiarity: A review of 30 years of research . Journal of Memory & Language, 46(3), 441-517.
[41] Yum Y. N., Holcomb P. J., & Grainger J . (2011). Words and pictures: An electrophysiological investigation of domain specific processing in native Chinese and English speakers. Neuropsychologia, 49(7), 1910-1922.
[42] Zhou C . (2007). Strong false memory effect: The impact of presentation duration and presentation mode. Journal of Psychological Science, 30(1), 23-28.
[42] [ 周楚 . (2007). 强大的错误记忆效应: 词表呈现时间与呈现方式的影响. 心理科学, 30(1), 23-28.]
[1] HUANG Yanqing, MENG Yingfang. Effects of target detection on memory retrieval[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2020, 52(6): 706-715.
Full text



Copyright © Acta Psychologica Sinica
Support by Beijing Magtech